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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Sailing Away: Global Seismic Imaging of the Oceanic Plates

Currently Active: 

Oceanic lithosphere constitutes the bulk of Earth's tectonic plates and also likely represents the building blocks of the continental lithosphere. The depth and nature of the oceanic lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary are central to our understanding of the definition of the tectonic plates and lithospheric evolution. But precise imaging of the lower boundary of the oceanic lithosphere has proven challenging (Rychert, 2011).


The purpose of this research is to

  1. Image the lithosphere - asthenosphere boundary across all ocean basins using 23 years of seismic data.
  2. Determine defining mechanism of the boundary based on depth and character of the associated velocity gradient.
  3. Develop a better understanding of the formation and evolution of lithosphere.
Figure 1. (Source: Rychert, 2011)
Figure 1. (Source: Rychert, 2011)

Seismic Imaging

The depth and nature of a seismic discontinuity is directly mapped using model variations in the shapes of stacked SS waveforms.

Character of SS wave is modelled using a reference phase convolved with a lithospheric operator.

100 seconds of waveform preceding SS peak is inverted for the best fitting seismic velocity discontinuity.

Key Contacts

Catherine Rychert , Nicholas Harmon

PhDs and Other Opportunities

Please visit GSNOCS

Key Publications

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